Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has issued a call for more effective school discipline — in other words, less corporal punishment and out-of-school suspension.

A new report finds schools still rely too much on old, ineffective and discriminatory practices.


Said a release:

Arkansas uses in-school and out-of-school expulsions at one of the highest rates in the nation. Arkansas also is one of only 19 states still allowing public schools to use corporal punishment, even for students with disabilities. More than 80 percent of school districts in Arkansas still spank students. Statewide, students were hit a total of 15,453 times in the 2017-2018 school year. Research shows these discipline methods do not improve student behavior but do have long-term negative effects on mental health and achievement.

Research in Arkansas and across the country also shows that children of color are punished far more frequently and harshly for the exact same behaviors as their white classmates. Students with disabilities are five times more likely to be hit as students without.

“We should all care about school discipline, because it affects the quality of neighborhood schools, graduation rates, community safety, and costs to taxpayers,” says Ginny Blankenship, AACF Education Policy Director and the author of the report. “Harsh and discriminatory school discipline increases the chance kids will drop out and end up in the juvenile justice system.”

There are many proven methods for improving students’ behavior and well-being that cost little to no money. Many schools across the state and country are using creative approaches. Results show mindfulness meditation and other alternatives are working.

In its report, Arkansas Advocates presents several recommendations to help all Arkansas students thrive including:

* Providing more training and support for teachers, administrators and parents on school discipline that works;

* Increasing the number of school counselors and social workers in schools who can help students and families before behavioral problems begin; and

* Banning corporal punishment in all publicly funded schools — especially for students with special needs.

What do you guess these ideas would draw in a vote on the floor of Arkansas legislature — 40 or so of 135 potential votes?